MOORHEAD, Minn. (2/23/15) --- If Concordia had any nerves heading into their quarterfinal matchup with Bethel, they didn't show it.
The Cobbers led wire-to-wire and shot 72% (18-of-25) in the first half and held off the Royals 85-76 for the third time this season and advances to the MIAC tournament semifinal for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
CC had four players score in double figures for the second straight game and seventh time this season.
Olivia Johnson led the way with a career-high 22 points, including 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half, and posted her sixth double-double of the season by hauling down 12 rebounds.
Concordia improves to 18-8 overall with the win while the Royals season ends with a 16-10 overall mark. CC is now 12-12 all-time in MIAC tournament games.
The Cobbers jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead. CC hit their first five shots of the game which included a triple from Johnson.
Molly O'Toole scored to cut the deficit to two points to cap a 10-4 run, but Concordia responded by ending the quarter on a 13-6 run finished by a Jeske corner trey as time expired to make it 28-19 after the first 10 minutes.
Walsh hit a stepback long ball to make it 31-19 at the start of the second quarter which was followed by five quick points from Cassidy Rahman.
CC scored on six of their final eight possessions of the half to take a 50-36 lead into the intermission.
Johnson picked up right where she left off out of the half. She hit a bank shot on the baseline then got out in transition to score on the first two possessions of the half to build an 18-point lead, their largest of the game.
Bethel slowly began to chip at the lead. The Royals scored on eight of their next nine trips down the floor that ended with an Abby Miller 3-pointer to make it an 11-point game.
In that three-minute span the Cobbers only scored on two possessions.
The outside shots weren't falling so CC dumped the ball inside to Januschka who went 6-for-6 from the foul stripe in the final five minutes of the third quarter to help the Cobbs take a 69-57 lead into the fourth quarter.
Kalli Zimmermann, who eclipsed 1,000 points for her career in the regular season-finale, pumped in eight quick points to bring the deficit into single digits with 6:52 to play.
Concordia desperately needed a basket and Crystal Amundson delivered. She got the friendly roll on a floater to go down and then hit a jumper on consecutive possessions to extend the lead to 78-65.
Rachel Parupsky and O'Toole combined for six points, but Walsh drilled a deep triple and Johnson hit a floater to negate the scoring for Bethel.
In the final two minutes Concordia got two offensive rebounds to extend possessions and the Royals went scoreless from the 1:53 mark until they scored with just 13-seconds remaining.
The Cobbers stepped to the charity stripe for a season-high 32 free throws and managed to convert on 22 of the attempts. CC ended the game shooting 58% (29-of-50) and went 5-for-12 from downtown.
CC outrebounded the Royals 38-22 and assisted on 14 baskets compared to Bethel's threebuckets. Concordia also won the turnover battle 12-7.
Olivia Johnson Postgame Interview
POINTS, WE LIKE POINTS
The two teams combined for an eye-popping 161 points, which is the second most total points scored in a women's basketball in playoff history. St. Benedict's and Hamline combined to score 165 in a MIAC tournament game back in 2012-13.
Olivia Johnson is saving her best basketball for last. Her 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting is a career-high and her 12 boards gives her six double-doubles this season. Johnson has strung together five consecutive games in double figures with three of them being for 20 points or more. She has also hauled down 10 or more boards nine times this season.
NUMBERS DON'T LIE
The numbers say give Jenna Januschka the basketball. Januschka added 17 points on 4-of-8 shooting and 9-of-12 from the foul stripe to reach a double digit scoring total for the twenty-first game this season. She has hit over half her shots in 17 games this season and the team is 15-2 when she scores 15 points or more.
HANNAH HAS HELPING HANDS
Hannah Jeske nearly recorded her second career double-double. She had 10 points and nine assists, which is the second most total of her career.
The Cobbers had a rebounding margin of plus-16 which marks the thirteenth time CC has notched a rebounding margin of plus-10 or more. Concordia also won the turnover battle 12-7 for the twentieth game this season. They had an equal amount of turnovers in two games, and have puked up the ball more than their opposition just four times all season.
Concordia's continues their postseason journey as they will play regular-season conference champion St. Thomas in the semifinal at 7 p.m. on Thursday February 25. The Cobbers have dropped four straight to the Tommies and seven of the last 11 dating back to the 2010-11 season. CC is 1-2 against St. Thomas in the postseason in the last six seasons. CC last played UST in the postseason in the tournament semifinal of the 2013-14 campaign and dropped a 71-56 decision. The year before that Concordia faced St. Thomas and lost in the tournament championship 58-50. The Cobbers did face the Tommies back in the 2010-11 season in the MIAC final and won 71-61.